Residents begin returning to Iraq's Fallujah

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The governor of Iraq's western Anbar province says families have begun returning to Fallujah three months after the city was declared fully liberated from the Islamic State group.

Suhaib al-Rawi says 40 families were cleared to return after they passed background checks and their neighborhoods were deemed safe.

Fallujah was declared "fully liberated" in late June after a monthlong operation by Iraqi forces aided with U.S.-led airstrikes. Fallujah had been the first Iraqi city to fall to IS, in January 2014.

The nearby city of Ramadi was also retaken from IS earlier this year, but is largely uninhabitable due to destruction caused by the fighting and explosives left by IS.

IS still controls the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's second largest. Iraqi leaders hope to take it back this year.